Ten Things I’ve Learned in Ten Years

ACFWAdvice, Authors and writing, Friends of ACFW, writing 7 Comments

by Sarah Sundin

Ten years ago, my first novel released. In many ways, I still feel like a wide-eyed debut novelist, stunned to have my books out there. In other ways, I feel like a mentor mama, passing out hugs and advice.

Let me put on my mentor mama hat today and share ten lessons I’ve learned in the last ten years of being a published author.

    1. My agent and editors are always right

While I’m confined to my little storyworld hole, agents and editors see the big picture. They see trends. They see what works and what doesn’t. Even when I disagree on a point, I defer to their wisdom—I might not agree on the suggested editorial solution, but their comments highlight problems I must address.

    1. Be kind to your editors

Turn in the cleanest manuscript possible. I want my editors to focus on the big stuff, not to be distracted by clunky sentences and sloppy grammar and punctuation. Clean manuscripts not only respect your editor’s time and energy, but gain you an excellent in-house reputation.

    1. Be kind to your publishing team

My publisher has a top-notch team of marketers, publicists, cover artists, and more. I honor their wisdom—see a theme here? I treat them professionally, and I never take what they do for granted. Be the author everyone loves to work with.

    1. Honor your commitments

Take the “dead” in “deadline” seriously. Not only for manuscripts, but for articles and endorsement requests and everything else. Late assignments create disruptive ripples downstream, and they annoy people. Don’t annoy people. So, set up processes to keep those commitments. I keep a goal sheet hanging over my desk. I keep detailed calendars and spreadsheets. And I keep my deadlines.

    1. Do your best in promotion

We can’t do everything. We can’t do many things well. But we must try. Send out newsletters, find your best social media sites and be active there, and be creative. My publisher has made a financial investment in my books, and I honor their trust in me by doing my part.

    1. Lavish love on your readers

Readers also make an investment when they choose our books. Show gratitude by interacting on social media, answering emails, and finding little ways to give back.

    1. Keep both criticism and praise at a distance

The twin dangers of being in the spotlight are discouragement and pride. Bad reviews can feel like a slap in the face, and they can sap your strength. Humbly look for lessons in that criticism, consider the possibility that your writing hit a painful nerve in that reader, pray for that reader, then tell yourself “Not my target audience” and move on.

Overflowing praise can be just as dangerous. Receive praise graciously, because it’s a gift from your reader. But don’t let it puff you up.

    1. Keep learning

None of us wants to become the author who churns out identical books. Keep reading, keep attending conferences to learn as well as to teach and network, and challenge yourself with each book.

    1. Give back

I am so thankful for writers who invested in me and encouraged me. What a joy to give back—to teach and encourage and invest in the next generation!

    1. Continue in gratitude

Every good and perfect gift comes from God. Any bit of talent. Contracts. Readers. The incredible joy I’ve experienced on the journey. The heartaches and trials that have led me to grow as a person. All come from the Lord. Keep your eyes fixed on him with thankfulness and in humility.

And thank you for reading this far.

How to honor your editors, readers, and your fellow writers. @sarahsundin shares 10 lessons she’s learned as a published author. #ACFWBlogs #writing #ChristianFiction #writetips Click To Tweet

Sarah Sundin is a bestselling author of World War II novels, including The Land Beneath Us , The Sky Above Us,  and The Sea Before Us. Her novel The Sea Before Us received the 2019 FHL Reader’s Choice Award. A mother of three adult children, Sarah lives in California. Visit her at  www.sarahsundin.com.



Comments 7

  1. The past few years have been quite rough,
    but my heart is, oddly, lighter,
    for I have learned (’tis true enough!)
    that I’ll never be a writer.
    I do not have the muse’s gift,
    a vital part of what it takes
    to give my words the needed lift
    from the swamp of the prosaic.
    And yet, it’s not a dream denied
    (and not all dreams are heaven-sent),
    for I find that I can yet provide
    to others, my encouragement
    in their efforts and their trials
    that their work and words will be worthwhile.

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